“The idea that apprenticeships are just for young people out of school, just isn’t the case. I applied for an apprenticeship in my 30’s, and it’s the best thing I’ve ever done.”

Tuesday 6th February 2023

To mark National Apprenticeship Week (5 – 11 Feb) Severn Trent is spotlighting 34-year-old apprentice Nathan Worton, and his journey on how early heartbreak, a near decade-long career in retail management and a stint at the Open University led towards him having the courage to embrace the decision to become an apprentice - and never looking back. 

Brummie Nathan, who works at Severn Trent said: “I’d be lying if it wasn’t as equally daunting as it was exciting to make a career change in my 30’s, but I’m a big believer in change and taking risks, and part of my nature is to continue to learn and grow. And that’s exactly what’s great about an apprenticeship.

“From an early age I’ve been interested in helping people, and being the voice of those who may need help to be heard, so a new career and focus in HR seemed the perfect fit.”

Having studied Psychology at The Open University and spending eight years working in retail management at several busy Midlands Poundland stores, Nathan’s decision to apply for Severn Trent’s HR apprenticeship programme allowed him to build on an already solid set of skills and pursue his passion on helping others.

“I’d spent years in retail when I left school, while it was a great foundation for learning new skills – I wanted to push myself more out of my comfort zone. That’s when I signed up to The Open University to study alongside working, and then made the jump to try something different through an apprenticeship.

“Being slightly older, and with responsibilities like a mortgage, a partner, pets and bills, making any kind of career change is scary.

“What if I don’t like it, or it’s not for me - and of course it is a risk, but I already feel like in just two years, it’s massively paid off, not just with what I am learning, but the security and benefits in working for a company like Severn Trent.”

Nathan joined Severn Trent’s award-winning apprenticeship programme back in 2022, since then he’s had many roles and placements in the company’s busy HR department – helping to make sure it’s 7,000 colleagues are supported. The placements mean getting a true flavour and full experience of working in an ever evolving and busy team, and upon successfully passing his apprenticeship, he’ll then be offered a permanent role in the business.

At the moment, the company in total has over 110 job opportunities available through its schemes, stretching much of the Midlands from the Peak District to outskirts of Bristol.

Severn Trent encourages people of any age, background or walks of life to consider an apprenticeship where they can earn and learn at the FTSE 100 company.

Nathan’s found his lived experiences and previous work history has meant he’s been able to bring a lot of that to his current role.

“What I’ve found is my apprenticeship has opened so many other doors, not just the ‘on the job’ learning, but having the opportunity to mentor a young man in prison, which to someone like me is what I care about the most, helping others.

“I really believe that it’s not who you are, it’s who you could be. Not everyone always has a choice or a voice. Having lost my brother to mental health at a young age, I felt his frustrations of not being heard or understood – and it’s what’s given me that drive.

Opportunities for Nathan since joining Severn Trent include being part of the company’s LGBTQ+ network advisory group, training as a mental health first aider, and mentoring a young man in prison through the company’s partnership with mentoring charity, Trailblazers.

“I feel like a real valued member of the team, not just an apprentice doing odd jobs – I am helping lead strategies, taking on opportunities such as joining groups and mentoring others and volunteering and so much more – I’m essentially being given the freedom to further develop and focus my interests in other areas, all through the apprenticeship.

“So, whether it’s through my role in HR to help thousands of my colleagues, or through the LGBTQ+ network or prison mentor programme – I feel I can help others see the bigger picture and feel valued, which is incredibly rewarding.

Severn Trent’s apprentice programme is open for its 2024 applications, where over 100 roles, there’s 30 different programmes in areas such as finance, technology, operational, technical, design and science.

Apprentices also can train in the company’s state of the art Academy, where its own employees are able to deliver the learning in house as an apprenticeship provider.

“It sounds cheesy, but I really do love what I do and the opportunities that are there if I want them,” adds Nathan. “I’d never have thought when I was younger that at 34 I would be feeling for the first time that my career and future is truly taking off, but everything I have done and experienced has led me here, and I feel really excited about what the future will bring.”

Find out more about Severn Trent’s apprenticeships or to apply, head over at stwater.com/careers.